The Arm of Flesh Will Fail You

Bible Book: 2 Kings 
Subject: Trust in God; Flesh, Weakness of; Hezekiah

2 Kings 18:13-16 and Chapter 19 - 2 Chronicles 32:1-8


Hezekiah, whose name may be unfamiliar to us, is the thirteenth king over the southern kingdom of Judah.

Homan’s Bible Dictionary says…

HEZEKIAH (whose name means “strengthened of Jehovah”) was the son and successor of Ahaz as king of Judah (716/15-687/86 B.C.) Hezekiah began his reign when he was twenty-five years old. At this time in history, the nation of Assyria had risen to power. Hezekiah’s reign can best be understood against the background of Assyria’s military activities during the years Hezekiah served as king of Judah. When Ahaz succeeded Jotham as king of Judah, he began pro-Assyrian policies by making Judah a vassal to Assyria. Ahaz’s political involvements with Assyria brought idolatry and paganism into the Temple (2 Kings 16:7-20).

Hezekiah began his reign by bringing religious reform to Judah. Hezekiah was not willing to court the favor of the Assyrian kings. The Temple in Jerusalem was reopened. The idols were removed from the Temple. Temple vessels that had been desecrated during Ahaz’s reign were sanctified for use in the Temple. The sacrifices were initiated with singing and the sounds of musical instruments. The tribes in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been subjected to Assyrian dominance. Hezekiah invited the Israelites to join in the celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem. Places of idol worship were destroyed. Hezekiah even destroyed the bronze serpent Moses had erected in the wilderness (Num. 21:4-9) so the people would not view the bronze serpent as an object of worship. Hezekiah organized the priests and Levites for the conducting of religious services. The tithe was reinstated. Plans were made to observe the religious feasts called for in the Law.

In 711 B.C., just a few years after Hezekiah had become king, Sargon II of Assyria captured Ashdod. Hezekiah anticipated the time when he would have to confront Assyrian armies. Hezekiah fortified the city of Jerusalem and organized an army. Knowing that a source of water was crucial, Hezekiah constructed a tunnel through solid rock from the spring of Gihon to the Siloam pool. The city wall was extended to enclose this important source of water.

Isaiah warned Hezekiah not to become involved with Assyria (Isaiah 20:1-6). The critical time for Hezekiah came in 705 B.C. when Sennacherib became king of Assyria. From Hezekiah, Sennacherib obtained a heavy tribute of silver and gold.

In 701 B.C., Hezekiah became seriously ill (Isaiah 38:1-21). Isaiah warned the king to prepare for his approaching death, but Hezekiah prayed that God would intervene. God answered by promising Hezekiah fifteen more years of life and deliverance of Jerusalem from Assyria (Isaiah 38:4-6).

In the meantime, Sennacherib had besieged Lachish. Aware that Hezekiah had trusted God for deliverance, Sennacherib sent messengers to the Jerusalem wall to urge the people to surrender. Sennacherib boasted of having conquered 46 walled cities and having taken 200,000 captives. Sennacherib’s messengers taunted that God would not come to Judah’s defense. Hezekiah, dressed in sackcloth and ashes, went to the Temple to pray. He also called for Isaiah, the prophet. Isaiah announced that Sennacherib would “hear a rumour” and return to his own land where he would die by the sword (2 Kings 19:7). The Gospel of Matthew lists Hezekiah in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:9-10). (Gary Hardin from Holman’s Bible Dictionary)

The passage of scripture that we have read (2 Kings 18:13-16) reveals two warring parties. On the one hand, we have the hosts of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, led by his general, the RAB-SHAKEH. On the other side we have the soldiers of Judah serving under King Hezekiah. They are at a standoff; neither party willing to succumb to the other.

With this situation in mind…

I. Let’s Consider Hezekiah's Virtues (Or His Character)

A. Hezekiah Pursued The Right Way

(2 Kings 18:3) And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.

(Hezekiah had later shortcomings, but this was his overall testimony.)

1. He Did This In Spite Of His Predecessors 2 Kings 16:1-4

2. He Did This In Spite Of His People 2 Kings 17:7-24

The abuse of high calling by low living always brings ruinous ending. – J. Sidlow Baxter

B. Hezekiah Promoted The Right Worship

1. There Was The Elimination Of False Worship

(2 Kings 18:4) He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

2. There Was The Element Of Faithful Worship

(2 Chronicles 29:28-30) And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. {29} And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. {30} Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

He distinguished himself by following the Lord.

(2 Kings 18:5-6) He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. {6} For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.

II. Let’s Consider Hezekiah's Vexation (Or His Conflict)

(2 Kings 18:7) And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.

Don't think that the enemy is just going to roll over and play dead.

A. Notice The Implementing Of Evil Tactics

1. The Enemy’s Plan Was To Minimize The Strength Of God’s People

2 Kings 18:17-26

(2 Chronicles 32:10-12) Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? {11} Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? {12} Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?

2. The Enemy’s Plan Was To Mock The Savior Of God’s People

2 Kings 18:27-35

(2 Chronicles 32:13-19) Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand? {14} Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? {15} Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand? {16} And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah. {17} He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand. {18} Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. {19} And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.

B. Notice The Implementing of Emergency Tactics

1. Hezekiah’s Plan Was To Get Help From People

(2 Kings 18:18) And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.

(2 Chronicles 32:1-6) After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. {2} And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, {3} He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. {4} So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? {5} Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance. {6} And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying,

(Cf. 2 Timothy 1:4; 4:9, 21)

2. Hezekiah’s Plan Was To Get Help In Prayer 2 Kings 19:4, 14-19

(2 Chronicles 32:20) And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.

III. Let’s Consider Hezekiah's Victory (Or His Conquest)

(1 Corinthians 15:57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(James 4:7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

A. There Was An Assured Promise Of Victory

1. The Lord Declared The Powerlessness Of The Opposition

(2 Kings 19:32-33) Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. {33} By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.

2. The Lord Declared The Protection Of His Own

The Lord said…

(2 Kings 19:34) For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

B. There Was An Actual Performance Of Victory

1. There Was Immediate Help From God

(2 Kings 19:35) And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

2. There Was Impressive Help From God

(2 Kings 19:35) And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

(1 Thessalonians 5:24) Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.


Kenneth Osbeck wrote…

In the year 1858 a great citywide revival swept across the city of Philadelphia. It was called The Work of God in Philadelphia. Of the participating ministers none was more powerful than the twenty-nine year old Episcopalian, Dudley Tyng. He was known as a bold, fearless and uncompromising preacher with great influence on the other spiritual leaders around him. His father, the Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, was for many years the pastor of the large Episcopalian Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia. After serving a short time as his father’s assistant, Dudley succeeded his father in this pulpit. However, some of the more fashionable members soon became upset with their young preacher because of his straightforward doctrinal preaching and his strong stand against slavery. He resigned this pulpit and with a group of faithful followers organized The Church of the Covenant.

In addition to his duties as pastor of the new and growing congregation, Tyng began holding noonday services at the downtown YMCA. Great crowds were attracted to hear this dynamic young preacher. On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, over 5,000 men gathered for a noon mass meeting to hear young Tyng preach from Exodus 10:11 - “Go now ye that are men and serve the Lord.” Over 1,000 of these men responded by committing their hearts and lives to Christ and His service; the sermon was often termed one of the most successful of the times. During the sermon the young preacher remarked, “I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.” (Ironically), the next week, while visiting in the country and watching the operation of a corn thrasher in a barn, he accidentally caught his loose sleeve between the cogs; the arm was lacerated severely, the main artery was severed and the median nerve was injured. Four days later infection developed. As a result of shock and a great loss of blood, Dudley Tyng died on April 19, 1858. At his deathbed, when asked by a group of sorrowful friends and ministers for a final statement, he whispered, “Let us all stand up for Jesus.”

The next Sunday Tyng’s close friend and fellow worker, the Rev. George Duffield, pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, preached his morning sermon as a tribute to his departed friend, choosing as his text Ephesians 6:14: “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” He closed his sermon by reading a poem of six stanzas that he had written, inspired, as he told his people, by the dying words of his esteemed friend. Rev. Duffield’s Sunday School superintendent was so impressed by the verses that he had them printed for distribution throughout the Sunday School. The editor of a Baptist periodical happened to receive one of these pamphlets and promptly gave it a wider circulation. From there it eventually found its way into the hymnals and hearts of God’s people across the world. (From “101 Hymn Stories”)

One verse of the original hymn, now omitted, had special reference to Mr. Tyng‘s tragic death:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!

each soldier to his post;

Close up the broken column

And shout throughout the host;

Make up the loss so heavy

In those that still remain;

And prove to all around you

That death itself is gain.

The song as we know it today:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;

Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.

From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,

Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;

Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.

Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;

Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;

The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.

Put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;

Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;

This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.

To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;

They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.